Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has given provinces production targets under the Intwasa/Pfumvudza zero tillage programme with 500 000 farmers having already prepared their land.

The programme is being implemented as part of the Government’s Agriculture Recovery Plan to make the country food sufficient.

President Mnangagwa last month launched the US$8,2 billion Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy as the country aims to achieve complete food security by 2025.

Under the programme 1,8 million smallholder farmers will be provided inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme.

In a ministerial statement on the Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Programme for the 2020/21 season in the Senate on Thursday, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said each of the country’s rural provinces will be expected to produce 250 000 tonnes of cereals and 45 000 tonnes of oil seeds.

“The national production is expected to be 1,8 million metric tonnes (MT) of cereals and 360 000 (MT) of seeds, both sufficient to meet human consumption and requirements for a year,” he said.

Deputy Minister Haritatos said to make this vision possible, more than 5 000 Agritex workers and agricultural supervisors have been trained across the country and had reached out to more than 3 million farmers across the country by September 4.

He said half a million people have since prepared their farms for the Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme while inputs distribution is ongoing.

Deputy Minister Haritatos said Government is equipping Agritex workers with motorbikes for the successful implementation of the project.

“Through the support from His Excellency, the President Dr E.D Mnangagwa, a total of 5 000 motorbikes will be availed to frontline extension staff. Delivery of these has started with 414 having been delivered to provinces as at 4 September 2020,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos.

He said farmers are expected to plant maize, soyabeans, sunflower and traditional grains.

Deputy Minister Haritatos said under the scheme, the country intends to boost the strategic grain reserve.

“Each household is supported with a standard input package to produce one tonne of cereals and 0,2 tonnes of oil seeds (sunflower or soyabeans). Expected total output shall, therefore, be 1,8 million tonnes of cereals and 360 000 tonnes of oil seed,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos.

He said the zero tillage programme will redress the costly food imports.

“The Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme has been adopted by the Government as a measure to address the problems of low productivity, low production and low profitability. Because of the low productivity and low production, the country has become a perennial net importer of cereal grains amounting to US$800 million annually,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos.

“This increases pressure on the fiscus to source foreign currency for grain importation, which could be channelled to other productive sectors of the economy, if we produced sufficient amounts for our country.

The Intwasa/Pfumvudza concept is an attempt to reverse this insalubrious (unhealthy) state of affairs.”

He said the concept aims at ensuring food, nutrition and livelihoods security at household level while surplus can be sold.

The deputy minister said through the programme, Government aims to address successive years of drought which has seen the country spending millions of dollars in foreign currency importing grain. — @nqotshili